“The world is for creating, not for critiquing”- was the most impressive phrase from the long letter responding to my few questions about teamLab’s art. The responder was Communication Director Kudo Takashi with his gentle and accurate answers.
teamLab is a art collective from Japan. They were founded in 2001 by a group of five artistically-inclined engineers from the University of Tokyo, who decided to create a group for artistic activities. They have achived a lot and the number of group members is over 400 at present, consisting of: engineers, computer scientists, architects, designers, and specialists of all kinds—whether it be robotics or 3D modeling—who come together to engage in artistic problem-solving work together. Among other things, they specialize in creating immersive digital installations which are highly interactive and no two experiences of the work are the same. We believe that by bringing together each person’s creativity it becames a larger creative force. teamLab is the skill-set organization. There is no hierarchy. “We are very flat organization.”
Viewers have the freedom to move as they wish in front ofteamLab’s artwork: you can walk around, dance, even run if you like. They use their own technique in order to make a close relationship between viewer and artwork. There is no fixed focul point and so you, and the person next to you can both become engrossed in the work. When I asked, is their art the transformation of classical Japanese art elements or is it the newest way of thinking and creating? Kudo answered for the group:
“When Inoko (founder of teamLab) came up with the phrase“ultra-subjective space”, part of it was just intuitive, and he hadn’t fully worked out the logicality of it. These days he is starting to wonder if he should have called it something else… We hadn’t worked out the logicality of it at the time, but we felt that there was some kind of logical recognition of space in Japanese art, though of course it was missing something in contrast to paintings or photos with perspective, so we thought maybe this would help bring into focus an aspect of Japanese art that suits the current age. We had a long span of trialing out creative endeavors using simulations, and that’s when we first started calling it “ultra-subjective space”. The viewing plane of ultra-subjective space doesn’t depend on a fixed perspective, and viewers can get absorbed into a piece of art by looking at it from where they stand, or choose to look at it from a completely different spatial position and use that as a point to enter the artwork. Viewers have the freedom to move as they wish in front of the artwork… And because there is no fixed central focus to the work, you can get multiple people in the same room at one time. We noticed how well the people mesh with each other through the interactivity of the piece and begin to shape the work. We’ve worked out what the concept logically entails now, but we are still unsure about its actual name. Inoko’s background was in mathematics and physics, which is why he was probably good that he was able to take the unusual perspective of Japanese art as “a logical method of depicting 3D space in 2D”.
It sems they create 3D worlds and then flatten the work so that it appears like a japanese painting.
For me it was an interesting definition of art in general and whereteamLab stands now. Kudo’s answer was extremely delicate and exact, as I see for now:
“The fact that the Internet now allows individuals to communicate whatever they want is something we generally have a lot of respect for. We are also aware of the fact that this has taken the lid off some social ills that were bubbling under the surface, and that rethinking these problems is a significant aspect of art, even its duty. We like that about art. It’s just that as we grew into an adult, and saw with our own eyes how people from across the globe used the Internet to dig up and expose all sorts of problems, it’s not so much that we didn’t like seeing it, but more that we became aware of its power. So it seems almost pointless for a mere artist to raise a question when 6 billion people across the planet are unearthing problems and bringing them to the world’s attention. Anyone can take a peek at their feed on the Internet and see it overflowing with issues. It seems to us that looking at the world through an intellectual lens and seeing problem after unsolvable problem would only lead to some sort of existential crisis. It’s in these sorts of times that we feel it’s more important for us as artists to at least seek out and affirm that idealistic part of humanity, and present an idea of the future — not the simplistic fiction of manga and video games, but a realistically possible ideal world. You know, like pointing out to people that if we looked at the issues we can’t presently solve in the context of humanity’s long history, we could create that ideal world. We think the world is for creating, not critiquing…
…Digital technology enables freedom for change and complex detail…Digital technology has made it possible to expand artworks, as seen in the use of projection mapping…The ability of digital technology to enable change allows us to express much more than we were able to prior to the digital age. Artworks can now express change much more freely and precisely. With interactive artworks, the viewer’s actions and behavior can influence the state of the artwork at any particular moment. The line between the artwork and the viewer becomes ambiguous and the viewer becomes a part of the artwork itself… Paintings prior to the digital era stood independently of the viewers, with a clearly defined boundary between the viewers and the objects being viewed…Digital artworks change the relationship between artworks and groups, has the potential to influence the relationships among the viewers of the artwork”.
Author: Dodochi Gogia